Icons of England
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Is this an icon?



Smile — you’re on camera! Britain is officially the most watched country in the world. We’re now monitored by some four million CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras, one for every 14 citizens. If you live in London, the chances are you are caught on CCTV about 300 times a day.

The first such surveillance system was installed by London Transport in 1961. By 1996, every major city in England except Leeds had CCTV systems in their central areas. Since 1994, the Home Office has spent a staggering 78% of its crime prevention budget on cameras. Up to £300 million pounds a year is spent on the surveillance of streets, housing estates, sports arenas, car parks and other public spaces. Someone, somewhere is nearly always watching you. And the technology is becoming more sophisticated all the time. Cameras are now combined with databases to scan and identify individual faces in crowds. This has been used to great effect in combating football violence.

Photo: Maria Gibbs


Your comments

The CCTV camera is a ubiquitous feature of the street scene in 21st century England. We have more public CCTV than any other country (including much bigger ones such as the US). Walk down the street in any English city or town and you are watched over by dozens of cameras, demonstrating in a very public way the changed nature of our society.

Ian Bertram

We, as a population, get what we deserve...until we address crime head-on, CCTV is here to stay. It's horrible, but necessary. Whereas crime, is horrible AND unnecessary! My only regret being that those caught out on CCTV aren't hauled into a deep dungeon and left there!
Johnathan Oswin

CCTVs They are an assault on our privacy. They are an assault on our freedom. They are an assault on our dignity. They assault us by intimidation. Why are we being punished this way? I would not even subject criminals to this level of surveillance. When will we be trusted again to move about our country without being put under surveillance? How on earth have we let this nightmare happen to us?

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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye